Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

Giant acidic steam clouds rise from ocean after lava spill in Hawaii (VIDEO)

Giant acidic steam clouds rise from ocean after lava spill in Hawaii (VIDEO)

Lava from Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than 150 homes in a rural Big Island district, including that of Big Island Mayor Harry Kim.

The latest estimates - up to 80 more structures than previously counted as destroyed by lava smothering two newly evacuated subdivisions - could bring the total number of homes and other buildings lost over the past month to almost 200.

When asked at a news conference Monday about the number of evacuations, he said he didn't have a good estimate because up to 80% of the houses in some areas are vacation rentals. Mr. Marzo said that "a'ā", a type of flow involving broken lava blocks called clinkers, had covered the entirety of Kapoho Bay.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the area and lava spewing from the volcano's fissures have destroyed more than 100 structures since the first eruption a month ago.

Video footage from a helicopter showed two seaside homes engulfed in flames as clouds of white steam and hydrochloric acid fumes billowed from the water, where red-hot lava was pouring into the ocean. She noted that does not count the homes lost at Kapoho, since those have to be verified by drone overflight and comparison with tax department maps, and that hundreds more still need to be counted.

USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Monday that parts of the channelized flow from a fissure were starting to break out and move north.

On Sunday, the flow crept toward Kapoho Bay, a roughly 1,000-foot-wide ocean retreat. Kim and Okabe live in Hilo, the county's seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.

"This could go on for months", she said.

Those who live or vacation in the area were mourning the loss of popular tide-pools where kids enjoyed swimming. To the north, lava has covered all but a small portion of Kapoho Beach Lots.

Civil defense spokeswoman Janet Snyder said later county tax records show the two subdivisions consist of 279 homes combined and that "many of those 279 homes are feared destroyed".

The latest damage came from a large lava flow that crept several miles (km) before severing a key highway junction at Kapoho on Saturday and then obliterating about a half dozen blocks of the subdivision over the weekend, the spokesman said. "It's a handsome spot", she said Monday.

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